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June 19, 2013

The Roundup for June 19, 2013

Posted in: Uncategorized

Greetings!

International Developments

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai suspended his negotiations with the Taliban until the US “steps out of the negotiations” and the process is “‘completely’ in the hands of Afghans.” Update: Secretary of State John Kerry called Karzai to try and smooth things over.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided that the “‘interest-rates lobby’” is “behind the unprecedented explosion of anger that erupted in recent weeks.”

150 doctors “signed an open letter to Barack Obama, urging him to allow Guantanamo detainees access to independent medical examinations and advice.”

Sen.Dianne Feinstein:  “Stop Force-Feeding Guantanamo Bay Detainees”.

❖ “Myanmar [Burma] Buddhist leaders examine ways to end sectarian violence.”

In South Africa, a gay imam is determined to show that “Islam can be reconciled with homosexuality”.

International Finance

Yesterday the Swiss Parliament refused to allow Swiss banks to pass customer info to the US.  They’re waiting to see what the US will do.

There is a conflict between US tax laws, imposed extraterritorially, and what the rest of the world does.  BTW, US tax law “extraterrotoriality” applies only to persons and not to corporations.

Money Matters USA

The US is #27 in the world in terms of median wealth:  $38,786, below Kuwait’s $40,341 and Cyprus’ $40,535.

The Fed will leave interest rates as they are, and continue its “bond-buying programme despite dissenting voices”, but could end stimulus spending soon.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)’s heard the IRS is agreeable to paying employees bonuses–$70 million in bonuses despite a White House April directive which was written by Danny Werfel who is now acting IRS Commissioner.

Tech manufacturing jobs “are coming back to America.”  Wages abroad aren’t as attractive to greedy corporations as they used to be and developing new technology can be better protected in the US.

Surveillance Planet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel thinks “it’s ‘important, necessary’ to debate the issues surrounding the [NSA] surveillance”.

❖ “FBI director Robert Mueller said his agency used surveillance drones in the U.S ‘in a very, very minimal way, very seldom’ at a Senate hearing”.  DiFi raised the issue, saying drones are “the biggest threat to privacy” in the US (apparently, forgetting about the NSA).

❖ “How cash secretly rules surveillance policy:  Today’s congressional hearing was a joke.  The reason: Firms like Booz Allen bankroll and own Congress. Here’s how.”

NSA Director Keith Alexander says Edward Snowden did indeed see the top secret order requiring Verizon “to turn over the metadata about calls”.  He saw it during “training”.

NSA Director Keith Alexander also told the House Intelligence Committee his agency is looking at leaving phone call records with the telecoms and reviewing them ‘only when there is a suspicion ‘of a foreign terrorist connection.’”  However, it’ll take some time since, “We want to do it right.”

❖ “Google’s chief legal officer denies company ‘is in cahoots with NSA’.”

The Associated Press’ CEO said the “Department of Justice has succeeded in muzzling government employees from talking to AP reporters” following Justice’s seizing AP’s phone records a few weeks ago.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has produced talking points, emphasizing “that Congress under her leadership improved the status quo ante”–and also provided “a legal basis for NSA collection programs”.

Valerie Plame discusses Edward Snowden, says he “Will Be Abused”.

❖ Greenwald:  “Fisa court oversight: A look inside a secret and empty process”.

❖  CNN took a close look at “42 plots to conduct attacks within” the US since 2001, and concluded: “traditional law enforcement methods have overwhelmingly played the most significant role in foiling” them.

Politics USA

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) made good on his promise, and released transcripts from the House Oversight Committee hearings on the IRS targeting controversy.

Immigration reform as contained in the bill now in the Senate should “boost the U.S. population by 10.4 million over the next decade while lowering the deficit by $197 billion”.

❖ New Pew poll shows 49% approve of the job President Obama is doing.

A 28-year-old VA man has pled guilty” to charges of voter fraud and forgery of thousands of signatures on Newt Gingrich’s campaign ballot” in the VA presidential primary.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

❖ “Federal Health Exchanges Are Behind Schedule, GAO Finds”.  More from Yves Smith: “ObamaCare Icebergs: Burgeoning Medical Debt and the Wobbly Start-Up of the Federally-Run Exchanges.”

❖ “Medical Costs Register First Decline Since 1970s”.

❖ “Infections with the human papillomavirus tied to cervical cancer fell by more than half in U.S. teen girls after the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006″.

The War on Women

Personhood Ohio has combined two of the unhealthiest causes on the American landscape:  auctioning off firearms and ammo in support of getting a ‘personhood’ amendment on the state ballot.

Athlete Serena Williams has apologized for the incredible remarks she made about the Steubenville rape case.

Great story of two sisters who became the first-ever female pilots in Afghanistan.

Planet Earth News

❖ “Japan finds highly toxic strontium in Fukushima groundwater.”

Sea surface temperatures along the US east coast  are the highest they’ve been in 150 years.

AR is already suing ExxonMobil over the Mayflower, AR pipeline eruption, raising eyebrows and speculation.

❖ “One in nine US bridges ‘structurally deficient’.”

Closure of San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Diego is expected to increase CA carbon emission by 8 million tons.

❖ “‘Every Plant And Tree Died’: Huge Alberta Pipeline Spill Raises Safety Questions As Keystone Decision Looms”.

❖ “Pesticides may kill off water insects and other small aquatic life by as much as 42 percent”, based on analysis of “German, French and Australian rivers and streams”.

Latin America

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff “salutes Brazil protests, cities cut bus fares”.  Update: Brazil has announced “it will deploy a national security force to five major cities after a wave of protests” demanding “better public services.”

Mixed Bag

Uranus is weird.

6,000 year-old cave art in TN.

Break Time

❖  Is that #OccupyEverest @ 1:36?



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